The Football Association were forced to withdraw a radio advertising campaign after they were accused of using ‘xenophobic stereotypes’ to sell match tickets for England games. Wembley chiefs were blasted for poking fun at the Three Lions’ upcoming opponents Sweden with sexual innuendo over an Abba-style backing track’ to sell match tickets for game.
The promotional clips, broadcast regularly nationwide on Talk Sport, saw a narrator using a mock Swedish accent as said: He says: “And now a MASSAGE from the Swedish football team: Listen up, English football fans…”
With the FA currently investigating two high-profile accusations of racism, against Liverpool striker Luis Suarez and Chelsea captain John Terry, this current storm was ill-timed. The advert also follows in the footsteps of a campaign from last month which was used to promote both this and the preceding game against world champions Spain, whose accents were also mocked in a similar fashion, three days prior.
Piara Powar, executive director of Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE), has condemned the adverts as being a downbeat ploy in advertising tickets for the game. He also fears that they appeal to a brand of football supporters that may make up the vocal minority that have been known to boo opposing national anthems at Wembley in recent times.
He said: “We’re surprised that the FA are using xenophobic national stereotypes to sell these games. There’s no need to do that.
“It doesn’t necessarily get them any more people going to the games. People going to the games will be going because it’s an international game, because the Spanish in particular but also the Swedes are quality opposition. I don’t see how adding a stereotypical Swedish or Spanish voice, or drawing on those sort of national stereotypes helps at all.
“Our organisation is not about political correctness but at the same time we know that sometimes everyday stereotypes and xenophobic comments can lead to an atmosphere which for example could lead to the booing of national anthems.
“It also leads to the way in which we see people from countries abroad and obviously that’s doesn’t help unite football and cross boundaries.
“If the shoe was on the other foot, then of course we would at the very least wince if not protest against that so it’s something that we need to see advertising agencies and the FA marketing department to bear in mind when they commission these sort of adverts.
“You don’t have to draw on those sort of stereotypes in 2011. We know enough about these countries and their citizens. We just don’t need to draw on cheap stereotypes.
Mr Powar has confirmed that FARE will be speaking with Kick It Out, their football’s anti-racism body in the UK, to urge the FA to avoid a repeat of such actions. Swedish football fans also found the adverts greatly offensive and claim they offer UK radio audiences a gross misrepresentation of their country’s culture.
Nezik Keshto, from Gothenburg, said: “Not only is it very misguided and bogus, the language and tone is derogatory in a very embarrassing and unripe way.“Had others done the same against England, it would not be accepted and people would feel offended, just as many Swedes feel after that advert.”
Ida Lundell, from Stockholm, said: “That accent sounds like a weird hybrid between an Italian/German/Polish accent, and nothing like what it aims for. I’m of the opinion that stereotyping is never a good thing to do, but I realize it will be incredibly hard to stop anyone from doing it. But if you are going to do it, please, at least make sure you do it right. There was no need for it at all; it didn’t add anything to the add, it only created another annoying stereotype of Swedish people.”
Last night, an FA spokesman confirmed: “We have withdrawn the advert with immediate effect. It was never intended to cause offence but in light of recent comments we have taken the decision to remove it from circulation.” [Source: Click Liverpool]